Why restaurants need a sustainability accreditation that's just for them

By Juliane Caillouette Noble

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Sustainability accreditation for restaurants Juliane Caillouette Noble

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The Sustainable Restaurant Association managing director Juliane Caillouette Noble on why the new and improved Food Made Good Standard is exactly what the hospitality industry needs right now.

Now, with the climate crisis at a breaking point, talk of sustainability is everywhere, and the number of environmental marks and green awards seems to grow by the moment. With increasing pressure to take action, it can feel impossible to know where to begin – and fair to ask the question: why do we need an accreditation like Food Made Good?

First things first: there is a myriad of sustainability accolades out there that are not based on transparent criteria, so putting those green stars on your menu is not necessarily indicative of making a meaningful impact. While the chefs in question are doing some truly excellent things, there is a complete lack of transparency around what work has actually been done: no evidence, no accountability. Without a way to measure progress with any accuracy, these accolades are meaningless. There is no sustainability without transparency.

Understanding the industry itself is so important. Accreditations that can be applied to any industry and focus on big-stroke ESG goals often miss the nuances of hospitality. Restaurants are incredibly busy and operating within a wider pressure cooker of a landscape; what they need is for those big, seemingly insurmountable missions (“just decarbonise your restaurant!”) to be broken down into tangible actions that they can fit into their day-to-day work. Decarbonisation is just one example, but becomes much more manageable when it’s broken down into smaller tasks like reducing energy use, managing food waste and making the right choices on your menu.

Another big consideration is that carbon is not the only metric that needs to be measured. Don’t get me wrong: decarbonisation is critical. But sustainability is a much bigger story. Moving beyond the carbon narrative to a holistic, 360-degree approach is a much more meaningful way to have an impact, fundamental to ensuring that we aren’t simply kicking the can down the road, waiting for another crisis. We need to build progressive, resilient businesses – with people at the centre – that can carry us safely and responsibly into the future.

Another enormous aspect to consider is the social impact of our industry; with so much urgency attached to environmental factors (and rightly so), the ‘S’ in ESG is too often forgotten. Poor treatment of staff has been the dirty secret of hospitality for far too long; in an industry that is built on people and personality – and one that has such a massive impact on the economy – it is crucial that we define a new ‘normal’. There’s no excuse at this point: things like diversity and equity, work-life balance, zero tolerance for bullying and harassment and reasonable compensation MUST be part of any restaurant’s sustainability ambitions. Restaurants also play an invaluable role within their communities, as spaces where people come together and that help to define culture on a local level. Engaging in the community is a really important part of what it means to be a sustainable restaurant.

There’s no debating the urgency of the situation: sustainability is no longer an option. The moment for change is now. With this in mind, our team at The Sustainable Restaurant Association has just relaunched our Food Made Good Standard, a holistic and practical sustainability accreditation for F&B businesses.

In its new incarnation, the Standard is globally applicable and accessible, meaning that restaurants anywhere in the world can now sign up and take real, tangible steps on their sustainability journey. We’ve even included a new, user-friendly platform to make it as easy as possible for restaurant operators to do the work.​ The Food Made Good Standard is a significant step forward for any restaurant, one that can better inform their practices and guide them in a process of continuous improvement – and doesn’t require hiring an external consulting firm.

There are lots of solutions out there, but the Food Made Good Standard is the only one specifically tailored to fit the needs of the hospitality industry. We see where restaurants are now, we know where they need to go, and we can provide a roadmap of how they can get there. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fine dining restaurant or a high street chain; the FMG Standard can outline real, tangible actions that you can implement within your existing operation, playing your part in building a more sustainable future for all of us.

Visit The SRA's new website to learn more. Ready to sign up to the Food Made Good Standard? Get started here​. 

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